The PPR trial aimed to help the Council understand people’s attitudes, awareness and actions towards public recycling.
Initially it was hoped the stations would become permanent, but Waste Operations Manager Emily Taylor-Hall says that during the trial it became clear they weren’t making a significant contribution to minimising the city’s waste.
“Things have moved on since the trial began, and we now know that recycling alone won’t help us meet our goal of Wellington becoming a Zero Carbon Capital. We need to shift our focus to creating and consuming less waste in the first place.
“As Wellingtonians, we all have a responsibility to make smart choices about what we consume. Reusable options such as cups and refillable bottles are the best way to reduce rubbish when we’re out and about in the city centre.”
Other reasons behind the decision to remove the stations were the small volumes of recycling diverted from the landfill, and the cost of servicing the recycling stations.
“The public recycling stations kept around 36 tonnes of recycling out of the landfill each year. While this sounds a lot, it’s a small drop in the ocean compared to kerbside collections that divert around 11,200 tonnes per year.
“We’re paying over $6,500 per tonne of recycling from the public recycling stations, which is around ten times the cost per tonne for collecting kerbside recycling.
“We think future funding is better focussed on waste reduction initiatives such as those that introduce more reusable options and reduce single use packaging.”
Council recycling communication is getting through, with contamination dropping from almost 50% to 7% for co-mingle items during the trial, and glass contamination was low for all audits ranging from 0-7%. But an audit of rubbish bins still contained an average of 45% recyclables.
The trial, launched in 2018, was a joint initiative with the Love NZ/Be a Tidy Kiwi campaign delivered by the Packaging Forum. It was funded with $465K of Waste Levy money from the Ministry of the Environment at no cost to ratepayers.
Stations were installed at Cuba Mall, Kelburn Park, Lambton Quay, Courtenay Place, Oriental Parade, Midland Park, the bus transfer station, and the Cenotaph. An additional station was installed at Evans Bay Parade campervan site to service campsite users.
The bins are being returned to The Packaging Forum to be used elsewhere.